What are Smiley-face Tricks? Based on the work of Mary Ellen

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Smiley-face tricks are a fun way to get you
to think and write more creatively.
“She was angry at her sister.” becomes ……
“She was so angry at her sister for not helping her
with her math homework that she grabbed her
sister’s geometry homework, crumpled it into a
ball, and slam - dunked it in the trash!"
By using smiley-face tricks, you’ll find yourself having
fun while elaborating on your writing.
Your teachers have always told you that you need to
SHOW NOT TELL….. WELL….. Here is a FUN and
CREATIVE way to do this and REAL authors use this
and even better……. IT WORKS!
In scoring,
consider the grid
of written
language
Inadequate
Command
Limited
Command
Partial
Command
Adequate
Command
Strong
Command
Superior
Command
Score
1
2
3
4
5
6
Content
And
Organization


May lack
opening &/or
closing
Uncertain focus





Minimal
response


May lack
opening &/or
closing
Attempts to
focus
May shift
focus

Attempts
organization
Few, if any,
transitions
between
ideas


No planning
evident,
disorganized


Details lack
elaboration
Lists ideas

May lack
opening &/or
closing
Usually has a
single focus


Generally has
opening &/or
closing
Single focus





Some
organization
May lack some
transitions
between ideas


Ideas loosely
connected
Transitions
clear




Usage

Many serious
errors

Many errors

Sentence
Construction

Variety of
incomplete
and/or incorrect
sentences


Many errors
No sentence
variety

Mechanics

Errors so
severe they
detract from
meaning

Many errors


Has an
opening &
closing
Single focus
Sense of
coherence
Key ideas
developed
Logical
sequence of
ideas
Attempts
compositional
risks
Relatively
fluent
Appropriate
and varied
details


Effective and
vivid details






Has an
opening &
closing
Single focus
Coherent
Welldeveloped
Logical
sequence of
ideas
Fluent,
cohesive
Compositional
risks effective
Repetitious
details
Several
unelaborated
details
Errors/patterns
of errors may be
evident

Uneven
development
of details



Few errors

Very few, if
any, errors
Little sentence
variety
Some errors

Some errors
that do not
interfere with
meaning
Some
sentence
variety
Few errors


Very few, if
any, errors
Obvious patterns
of error

Appropriate &
effective
sentence
variety
Few errors
Few errors

Very few, if
any, errors


No consistent
pattern of
errors
Some errors –
doesn’t
interfere with
meaning


Three examples in a series can
create a poetic rhythm and add support for a
point, especially when the three items have
their own modifiers.
Look at the example from The Paper Bag Princess
by Robert Munsch. What three verbs &
modifiers does the author use to add support?
“Elizabeth was a beautiful princess. She lived in a
castle and had expensive clothes. She was going
to marry a prince named Ronald. Unfortunately,
a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her
clothes with his fiery breath, and
Prince Ronald.
(The Paper Bag Princess)
carried off
Think of a problem you’ve had and write a
simple sentence. NOW…. Add a Magic
Three to your sentence and watch the
“magic” happen!
Possible starter: I was so angry that….
Non-literal comparisons add “zing” to our
writing and can help paint a more vibrant
picture for the reader. Some examples are
similes, metaphors, hyperbole, onomatopoeia,
personification, alliteration, assonance, etc.
“When the sky is full and singing with stars you
know that twilight has given way ....”
Twilight Comes Twice
by: Ralph Fletcher
Use one or more types of figurative language to
rewrite the following sentence:
The wind was strong.
Challenge: Can you use a “Magic Three” AND
figurative language to elaborate this sentence?
Whenever possible and appropriate, try to infuse
a little humor to keep your reader alert. I want
you to wake up your readers’ emotions and what
better way to attract attention than by using
humor!
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By connecting two or more adjectives together
with a hyphen, it imparts an air of creativity and
cleverness to our writing.
Sometimes a new way of saying something can
make all the difference; hyphenated adjectives
often cause the reader to “sit- up and take
notice.”
“I give him Marcel’s special Turn-on-theCharm-and Give-Them-the-Big-Pearly-Whites
smile.”
All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall
There once was an old woman.
OR
He flashed her a wicked grin.
Try elaborating either one of these sentences
using either humor or a hyphenated-modifier.
CHALLENGE: Can you use both
smiley-face tricks in one sentence?
For the next couple of minutes try writing a
paragraph using as many of the smiley-face
tricks we talked about so far based on the
following explanatory prompt. Work as a
table group!
Repeat an important word, phrase etc. to
stress its importance. Use this trick to get
your readers’ attention.
EXAMPLE:
Today I wore a red hat, not just any red hat,
the red hat from my grandma, not just any
grandma, my grandma.
Tell why Stanley was so
unhappy using
Repetition for Effect.
Example:
Stanley was very unhappy, not
just unhappy, but really,
really unhappy, so unhappy
that he was horribly unhappy.
Preparation:
Write descriptive words for how a
pillow feels – i.e. fluffy, puffy,
billowy, cushiony, etc.
Activity:
What other imagery words can you
add. Write down 5 words that
describe the feeling of mud.
Share and list on the board.
Follow-up:
How do the words convey the
feeling of things.
Preparation:
Write words that evoke smells – i.e.
popcorn, brownies, roses.
Activity:
Have students list other words that
describe pleasant smells. Then have
them list words to describe
unpleasant smells (sour milk,
garbage, rotten eggs, etc.)
Follow-up:
Talk about how words can describe
specific smells.
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Dog at a Park
Sight: pink tongue, dark, almond-shaped eyes, small &
brown animals, twitching ears
Touch: soft fur, heaving sides
Smell: soft wind blowing
Taste:
Sound: high-pitched sounds only dogs can hear
Example of an expanded moment
“I watch Georgia run through Thompson Park… I am out of
breath when I finally catch up with her. I run my hand
along her back, soft as a feather pillow. I pat her heaving
sides and scratch her ears, but she hardly acknowledges
my presence. I command her to sit, and she does so, but
her mind is elsewhere. Her ears twitch as she tunes in to
the sounds that I cannot hear. Georgia strains to catch the
slightest whisper in the air. Her pink tongue pulses from
her lips. Her dark, almond-shaped eyes… are fixed on
something small and brown. And then suddenly she is off,
lickety-split, on another wild goose chase.” (At the Park
with Georgia)
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Close your eyes.
Pretend you are in a boring language arts class and
are daydreaming of someplace else you’d rather be.
Become aware of your surroundings. 
List your senses, then write an expanded moment
using these senses.
Sight:
Touch:
Smell:
Taste:
Sound:
First List Your Senses…..
Then, use your imagination….
Every new word increases a writer’s power.
Try to keep vocabulary natural. A thesaurus can be a
good friend to a writer, but only if it is used sparingly
and with thought.
Writing works best with specific words that are carefully
chosen to create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.
Play around with the words until they sound good.
Don’t say, “The dog was big and mean.”
SHOW DON’T TELL!
Say……. (Now you try it!)
When writers include an image or phrase at the
beginning of a piece of writing and then mention
it again at the end, it gives their piece a sense
of closure.
If you give a mouse a cookie,
He’s going to ask for a glass of milk.
When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw.
When he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin.
Then he will want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache.
When he looks into the mirror, he might notice his hair needs a trim. So he will probably ask for
a pair of nail scissors.
When he’s finished giving himself a trim, he’ll want a broom to sweep up. He’ll start sweeping. He
might get carried away and sweep every room in the house. He may even end up washing the
floors as well!
When he’s done, he’ll probably want to take a nap. You will have to fix a little box for him with a
blanket and a pillow. He’ll crawl in, make himself comfortable and fluff the pillow a few times.
He’ll probably ask you to read him a story. So you’ll read him one from one of your books, and he’ll
ask to see the pictures. When he looks at the pictures, he’ll get so excited he’ll want to draw one
of his own. He’ll ask for paper and crayons.
He’ll draw a picture. When the picture is finished, he’ll want to sign his name with a pen.
Then he’ll want to hang his picture on your refrigerator. Which means he will need…scotch tape.
He’ll hang up his drawing and stand back to look at it. Looking at the refrigerator will remind him
that he’s thirsty so…he’ll ask for a glass of milk.
And chances are if he asks for a glass of milk, he’s going to want a cookie to go with it.
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“Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros
Work with your table group and see how
many “smiley-face” tricks you can find!
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Label them in the margin
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Be ready to share.
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Action Verbs = “She was clutching tight to her
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Adjectives = “Your skinny feet were devoured by
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daughter.”
oversized working boots.”
Adverbs = “The sky whispered gloriously in unison.”
Allusions = “It’s still vividly colored in my mind, like
Georgia O’Keefe’s American abstract paintings.”
Analogies = “Here comes real friendship, the real
friend. Behind her is a caravan of white horses, each
with a gold saddle on its back, waiting for us to pick
one on which to ride back to her castle, a place with
princess in shining armor and fairies on wings
soaring at breath taking heights.
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Anecdotes = “It seemed our family always
had problems. Mommy always had “woman”
problems, so she had to leave with some
doctor. Daddy used to have a drinking
problem. Mel’s Bar is really missing his
business now. I wondered if we had missed
any problems.” “I remember those days…”
Definitions = He studied the “thing” as if he
were a carrion-eating bird, a vulture…”
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Descriptions = “He was an 83-year old, my-
way-or-the-highway , beer-drinking, cigarsmoking, cowboy-hat-wearing man.”
Dialogue = “I hear she’s anorexic. That’s how
she dropped all that weight.”
Quotations = “Someone said – I think it was
Shakespeare – that friendship comes and
friendship goes, but love lasts forever.”
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Reasons = “One of the main reasons that girls
are different from boys is their appearance.
It’s a commonly known fact that girls carry
the contents of a survival kit and everything
including the kitchen sink in their purses.”
Sensory Images = “He takes her hand while
asking her to dance. She blushes with a grin
capable of reaching across the state of Texas
and even farther.”
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Keep these Smiley-Face Tricks in your
binders/notebooks all year as a reminder of
various stylistic devices.
Incorporate a certain number of Smiley-Face
Tricks in each writing piece,.
Look for Smiley-Face tricks in your short
stories/novels or independent reading books.
Make note of the ones you like and use them
again and again in your writing!

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